Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Etiquette for Dining, Not Whining

Be patient with children and try to have fun.

The Top Tips for Making Dining Out with Children a More Pleasant Experience

* Try to make sure the children are well rested. When possible, consider their schedules in your planning. Children who are tired, are more apt to be cranky and can act very hyper.

* Calculate the length of time since the children have last eaten and when you reasonably expect to be served your meal. If it will be longer than two hours, give them a small snack of raisins or other foods that are easy to eat in your vehicle, without making a gooey or crumbly mess. Low blood sugar can make children hyper.
Table Topics can be made into a game. Be sure to listen to even the younger members of your group.
* Come up with things each family member can talk about at the table. Make it a game and the kids will enjoy the conversation more. 

* If possible, ask for a table and chairs rather than a booth. Booths, by their design, invite kids to slide on under them. Chairs, especially with arms, have a way of containing kids, and can be pushed closer to the table.

Kids will respond well if you let them know the behavior expected of them, ahead of time.
* Brief children on what behavior is expected before you get into the restaurant. Remind them of the manners they have been taught by you and make sure to give them 'do's, not a lot of 'don'ts'. 

Example: "Do put your napkin in your lap before food or drinks are put on the table." or "You can play with your toy, but do play quietly so that others are not bothered." 

Giving a child a list of 'don't do this and don't do that' rarely works. List off a hundred things they don't get to do, and their imaginations will come up with hundreds more you didn't think to cover!

* Let kids "kick the air, not the table leg or chair" if their feet do not touch the floor. If your legs didn't touch the floor, you would get an unconscious urge to move them around too. That is why kicking table legs and kicking the backs of seats starts for kids. Their legs are not getting needed circulation.

* Avoid soft drinks that contain caffeine. Educate yourself about which brands contain it and to what extent. Some soft drinks, for example, have nearly three times the amount of caffeine as others.

* If a child is small, ask that glasses only be filled half-way unless the restaurant has child-sized drinks and ask servers to limit the amount of ice in cold beverages. Melting ice forms condensation on glasses, which causes slips and spills. Ice can also be a choking hazard for toddlers, and simply invites noisy ice-chewing in older kids.

* Be patient with children and try to have fun. It may just turn out to be a wonderful learning experience for the whole family. 

Contributor, and Site Editor, Maura Graber has been teaching etiquette to children, teens and adults, and training new etiquette instructors, for over a quarter of a century, as founder and director of The RSVP Institute of Etiquette.  She is also a writer, has been featured in countless newspapers, magazines and television shows and was an on-air contributor to PBS in Southern California for 15 years.